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July 17, 2013 10:11 AM Appointments: The Goal Isn’t to Defeat Nominations; It’s to Delay Them in the Senate

By Jonathan Bernstein

Following the Senate nominations deal, which seemingly happened late last night or early this morning, the White House needed replacement nominees for the two NLRB picks who were the losers in the compromise.

And what do you know: they were named this afternoon! In fact, as Harry said just said on the Senate floor, they’ll get their hearing on Tuesday (that is, in one week), the HELP Committee will vote on them on Wednesday, and they’ll be considered on the Senate floor on Thursday. Soup to nuts in nine days. Huh?

Well, obviously, the larger part of this is that Republicans are removing procedural obstacles by agreement. Which reminds everyone of a key point: it’s not just about defeating nominations by filibuster; it’s also about delaying them, and about using up the Senate’s time.

It’s also worth noting that as slow as Congress is normally, they can move very quickly when they all agree to.

But the big thing to notice here is: what about the months of vetting?

Two possibilities. One is that Harry Reid and Barack Obama figured on this outcome months ago, and were prepared for it.

More likely? It’s as if all of that vetting isn’t really necessary after all. That is, it’s not necessary for making sure hat the nominee will do a good job in office; it’s only needed in part to get nominees through the confirmation process without surprises, and in part just because of bureaucratic standard operating procedure that has no other purpose.

All of which is to say: if it’s good enough for these two NLRB picks, it should be good enough for most administration posts. Reduce vetting now!

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.